Throughout BMW’s history, there have been a couple of iconic engines made by the Bavarian manufacturer that simply stuck with fans of the brand. Most of them were straight sixes because that’s somewhat of a BMW specialty but there has been an exception as well, alongside the V8s that are probably popping in your head right now. That exception was the S85 V10 and it’s still one of the best engines ever made, in my book.
It’s hard to explain to someone why the S85 is such an adored mill and, to be honest, while I was always fascinated by it, I also found it all a bit peculiar. In today’s age, where torque is simply abundant due to forced induction, driving an aspirated engine might feel a bit underwhelming. That’s because NA mills need to rev to get the most out of them. And boy, does the S85 deliver once it reaches its summit.
I had the pleasure of driving such a brilliant machine not more than a week ago. It was on board a BMW M6 and after driving it for a couple of miles I can now actually say I understand why it is so loved. The sound is not overwhelming and the 520 Nm of torque are almost nothing by today’s standards but the way that engine reacts to your inputs and how it wants you to keep revving it into oblivion, being right there with you all the way makes it an incredible experience overall.
Furthermore, I had gotten used to turbocharged engines and right before I drove the mighty S85 I was actually behind the wheel of the latest iteration of the N63 4.4-liter twin turbo V8. And while that V8 is brilliant and reduces lag to a minimum, in terms of sharpness, the S85 blows it out of the water. Sure, it’s not a fair comparison but it does speak about why the V10 is so adored. The guys from Fifth Gear somehow were in the same mindset and decided to post a video of a comparison they did between the M5 and M6 back when they were new. Check them out for some good old fashion V10 sounds.